On Sept. 17, the abortion drug RU-486 claimed its latest victim, a California teen. Well, that is not exactly true. Every day, hundreds of tiny, unborn victims are also killed by the chemical abortion agent.

On Sept. 10, Holly Patterson, an 18-year-old girl from Livermore in the San Francisco-area, was given Mifepristone (the first of two stages in administering RU-486) at a Planned Parenthood facility in nearby Hayward to end her seven-week-old pregnancy. She went home and later vaginally inserted Misoprostol, the second stage in administering RU-486. On Sept. 13, she entered Pleasanton’s Valley Care Medical Centre to be treated for an undiagnosed case of septic shock, a serious infection that resulted from unexcavated aborted baby parts. She was sent home with pain control medication for what was thought to be cramps, although she was also bleeding.

Three days later, after suffering acute pain so bad she was unable to walk, she re-entered the medical centre and died later that day. A doctor at the centre told the family that, “Fragments of the fetus still left in her uterus … caused the infection.” The Alameda County coroner’s office is investigating to rule on the official cause of death.

To be fair, the hospital may yet be found to be negligent in its care of Patterson. But regardless of what care she did or did not receive, the root cause of Patterson’s injuries seems to have been her use of RU-486. Her parents certainly see it that way. They have spoken out against the abortion pill, warning others of the pill’s dangers. “They (Planned Parenthood) told her it was safe and it killed her,” Monty Patterson, the victim’s father said. “I felt so helpless … I didn’t have a chance to be involved.”

Holly’s parents also said that they hoped the case would lead to more communication between teenagers and their parents about their pregnancies. “I don’t want to see another young, vibrant girl die,” Patterson said. “Holly and her boyfriend made this decision on their own, and it was a fatal one.”

Danco Laboratories, the American manufacturer of RU-486, admitted in an open letter to U.S. doctors in April 2002 that six women have died from using the abortion drug in North America. RU-486 was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. Canada has not approved its distribution, but during clinical trials in 2001, an unidentified woman died while taking part in the experiments.

When the FDA approved it in 2000, the federal agency said it was “safe and effective.” But Family Research Council president Tony Perkins reacted to Patterson’s death by remarking: “How many more lives will be taken before the FDA reconsiders whether RU-486 is as ‘safe and effective’ as they originally thought?”

Perkins said, “Holly’s death teaches us the tragedy that occurs when young women enter abortion clinics needing help and information and receive neither.” At the same time, “Parents are left out in the cold while their children undergo dangerous procedures with severe health consequences.”

Death is not the only consequence of RU-486 for women. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that, “Hundreds of ‘adverse events’ have been reported to the manufacturer and subsequently, to the FDA.” Yet, it continues to be promoted to women as a safe abortion method. At least 225,000 American women have used RU-486 since 2000.

According to Planned Parenthood’s website and the FDA, the most common side effects include uterine cramps, bleeding, nausea and fatigue.

Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, said that RU-486 is not safe, as the Holly Patterson case proves. She added that RU-486 threatens women’s lives and health. “Surely women deserve better and should not be treated as collateral damage in the pursuit of making abortion accessible.”

Planned Parenthood said it was waiting for results of the investigation before commenting, but claimed that the death in no way indicated that RU-486 was not safe for women. The National Abortion Federation, which has repeatedly promoted RU-486 as safer than aspirin, had no comment on Patterson’s death.

Jim Sedlack, executive director of Stop Planned Parenthood, said the abortion pill is trumpeted “as an easy, simple thing until something like this happens – and then they say it’s a random event.”

Rios said, “The Food and Drug Administration has the power to protect women by withdrawing its approval of the deadly abortion pill, RU-486.”